Facebook has signed a deal to use satellite broadband services in the provision of internet access to a large portion of Africa as part of its Internet.org initiative.
The company will use capacity from the soon-to-be-launched AMOS-6 satellite, owned by Israeli firm Spacecom, which will offer coverage over large parts of west, east and southern Africa.
Facebook will use the internet access to power the Internet.org project, which provides access to what the firm sees as core internet services for the developing world, such as healthcare, banking and, of course, Facebook.
Internet.org vice president Chris Daniels explained that signing the deal with Spacecom is a major step forward in this mission.
“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa,” he said.
The move to use satellite services suggests that Facebook is not overly confident that its own plans to use solar-powered drones to provide the internet access will be enough to meet the requirements, despite the success of initial test flights.
Facebook will share capacity on the satellite with French telecoms provider Eutelsat, which will use the connections to sell full satellite broadband services in the region.
“We are excited by this opportunity to accelerate the deployment of our broadband strategy and to partner with Facebook on a new initiative to provide internet access services in Africa," said Eutelsat chief executive Michel de Rosen.
Eutelsat will also open a new office in London to head up its African operations as the firm looks to expand into the continent, having previously focused on selling services to those in the remotest parts of Europe.
Satellite broadband has often been touted as a key way to get people online, although the UK government has not paid much heed to the idea as part of its ambitions to get the entire UK population online.
However, BT recently revealed that it intends to offer satellite broadband services as part of its digital plans for the future.
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